Group Night

I won’t do my usual bullet analysis by performer tonight. I don’t see much point in it. Instead I am going to do some math, and search the faces. I know that there were 95 performers going in, and 71 at the end of the day. I am going to make an attempt to list everyone that I am able to recognize from previous shows, and give you an “in” or “out”.

I’ll start by listing the 38 contestants from my previous power rankings. If I have something to say about anyone, I’ll add that here. Below that list will be the late arrivals, the notable contestants didn’t get any airtime before Hollywood Week. Finally, I will list the contestants from the audition rounds that I dismissed, who either made it or did something notable. That list will be where I start making excuses.

Male-

John Park- IN, no airtime this week….. Andrew Garcia-IN, lots of air, sounded terrific and he remains a solid contender for the title. I am a bit worried that he might not be as unique as I thought that he was. Where are the Stevie Wonder high notes? He sounds like he might be coasting vocally while he is cruising through the middle rounds. I expect him to step it up later. He will need to, if he wants to win it all….. Lee Dewyze- IN, and he got some air tonight…… He sounded terrific, but he might want to do something about his look and his stage presence. He looks dumpy, and he can’t win by being low-key. What a voice, though….. Justin Williams- OUT last night….. Aaron Kelly- No air, no clue if he is in or out….. Todrick Hall- IN; and maybe a little bit irritating. He was the one who did the back-flip on the LadyGaGasong, and he sounded terrific….. Casey James- IN, and impressive. How good is this kid? He isn’t the favorite, he is a dark horse, but he is building momentum as a true musician and a dynamic performer. His low harmonies tonight were perfect and he nailed his solo….. Lloyd Thomas- IN, not aired except for a late interview…..TylerGrady- IN, not aired, and his arms are healed….. Jermaine Sellers-IN and he did an Adam scream in his airtime, not as good as Adam but not bad. This kid has tons of voice, and he will go as far as he can control his talent and use it to positive effect. He ain’t Adam; it would be a good idea to avoid trying to be Adam and just sing….. Benjamin Bright- No sign of him….. Luke James- No sign of him….. Michael Lynch- IN; and way too much airtime of the birth of his kid. I read an internet rumor that said that he made the semis but was disqualified because his Father let the news out early. I have no idea whether this is true or not. He has no chance to win anyway, so it probably doesn’t matter. Idol should be flogged for their disgusting coverage of the birth of his kid. I was disgusted by it, but not because the coverage was disgusting. I fast forwarded through it, so I didn’t see anything. Kids are born all day, every day. When it’s your own kid you love the moment; you treasure the moment; you might even film the moment for your own family. Nobody films a birth for the general public to see unless they are incredibly narcissistic or they are stuck for drama on some TV talent show. Idol, this was lazy, and I am calling you out. We didn’t get to see Leah, we didn’t get to see John Park, we didn’t get to see the group performances of such talents as Didi and dozens of others, but you wanted to show us this? It’s hard to give you a pass for time constraints when you waste so much time on this kind of crap…… Seth Rollins- OUT, and I am not sure why. He sounded good tonight….. Jermaine Purafoy- IN, and I loved the harmonies in his group performance….. Matt Lawrence-OUT; what in the hell was he thinking, singing Gwen Stefani? Rednecks don’t sing Gwen Stefani….. Mark Labriola-OUT; forgot his words and made a fool out of himself by begging. He was dogged out tired by then. I’ll give him a pass for begging, but he wasn’t good enough anyway….. Jay Stone- OUT right off the bat last night. The quick hook isn’t a good sign for him showing up for the finale…..

Ladies:

Didi Benami- IN I assume, no sign of her tonight but she was incredible last night….. The Little Red Haired Girl- AN ACTUAL SIGHTING!!!! AND SHE SANG ON CAMERA!!! No name and no indication of whether she made it or not, but I’ll take what I can get. It was 46 minutes into the show, and she was in the group with Haeley Vaughn. She took the first solo, and she sounded fantastic. The producers showed her clip in the midst of several clips of a Gwen Stefani song that is death to singers, but several of the singers that they aired did make it to the next round. They showed Simon looking dubious, so I just don’t know. All I can say is that it was worth it to hear her sing. I am praying that she made it, if for no other reason than to finally learn her name. (added later in the night) She was in the group with Dawntoya Thomason, and they showed three of that group celebrating and the Little Red Haired Girl coming in later, as one of the rejections. I feel really cheated……Ashley Rodriguez- IN; and very impressive. See you in the semis. I am still waiting to see her with an instrument; is she holding back for later? She stands out in the competition so far like a seventh grader singing with third graders….. Tasha Layton- IN, almost no airtime singing but she’s been shown several times, just standing around. The 2 seconds of airtime that she did get was as part of a thick, three part harmony. It was perfect….. Angela Martin- IN, no airtime singing except for with Sasha in that perfect harmony spot…. Mallory Haley- OUT in round one….. Leah Laurenti- OUT, which is my biggest bummer of the season so far other than the little red haired girl. I wanted to hear her again, and I feel like they cheated us by not giving us another listen to her silky, jazzy voice with all of the blue notes. Oops, they had to show us a woman giving birth. She is too good of a singer to get booted for lack of talent, so I am guessing that she must have forgotten her words. That’s an automatic ejection. I only saw her walking off; she was classy and circumspect about her ouster. See you next year, Leah. Work on that confidence and build a wide net of command and aggressiveness around that beautiful voice….. Jess Wolfe- No sign of her….. Nikki Nix- Booted last night, OUT….. Hope Johnson- IN despite a horrible performance tonight….. Jennifer Hirsch- No sign of her….. Katie Stevens-IN, and almost a lock for the semis now. She is so good already that it’s easy to forget that she is a good 5 years from reaching her potential and rounding out her skills. If she loses this year she might end up regretting that she didn’t wait for it, but in this business it’s not a good idea to hold back….. Vanessa Wolfe- OUT last night, it was very nice to meet you.…. Brittany Starr-James- Not sure….. Megan Wright- OUT last night, we’ll see her next year I think. She is talented….. Lacey Brown- No sign of her….. Dawntoya Thomason- IN, and she showed up 3 or 4 times in short bursts, mostly being nervous before or celebrating after. She sang with the Little Red Haired Girl. and screwed up the same Gwen Stefani song that everyone struggled with….. Haeley Vaughn- IN; impressive last night but not so much tonight….. Holly Hardin- No sign of her, which is surprising. I expected a public flameout for Guitar Girl, setting up her appearance in the finale….. TishaHolland-IN….. Danelle Hayes- She didn’t make it toHollywood. She was booted from the show for some past criminal act. I don’t know what it was. Since a BANK ROBBER was allowed to stay in, I am not sure that I want to know. If you read what I said about her in the power rankings, you know that I am not sorry to see her gone.

New voices-

Tim Urban- IN, but I don’t see why. He sucks, in my opinion. Is he related to Simon? Does he have some incriminating pictures? The guy can’t sing in tune. They dumped Leah Laurenti for him?….. Michelle Delamor- IN; She sang with Ashley and Charity but she didn’t get any solo airtime….. Michael Castro- OUT; He is Jason’s brother (Jason finished 4th in 2007). He got almost no airtime at all singing, but he kept showing up on camera….. Liz Rooney- IN; She was the blonde with the pink extensions that sang with Neapolitan; she might be the worst singer left in the competition other than Tim Urban….. Jessie Cunningham- IN; She was the black girl with Neapolitan. I have no opinion either way on her yet. Neapolitan didn’t sound all that great, but they had good timing. The next group (Destiny’s something or other) sang the same song, and they were a lot better….. Theri- IN; She was the black girl in the leather in Destiny. Powerful voice, she might have a chance….. Jareb Liewer- IN; he was the white guy in Destiny. He over sang a little bit, but I won’t dismiss him at this point….. Fourth girl in Destiny- IN, she had a red headband and no solo airtime (added later: this was Siobhan Magnus)…..  Chrystal Bowersox- IN, not aired solo but in a group….. Kat Nessle- OUT; She was the one who bailed at the last minute and went home.

Aside– I don’t know a thing about her, and I won’t judge her for giving up, but I figure that this is a good place to mention a couple of things about Group Day. It starts at around 7 at night. The contestants are given until the next morning to set up groups, learn the song, figure out some harmony and a few dance moves, and take it in front of the judges. It’s an unbelievable pressure cooker for the ones who don’t find their fit right away. Simon, in one aired comment, said that it was simply “learning a song in 12 hours. It’s not a hardship”. While I agree that, if you want to win this competition, learning one song in 12 hours shouldn’t be that tough, it’s not that simple. The groups that find themselves right off the bat can get it in a few hours and get some sleep. The ones that take some time to find a fit will end up still working on the basics at 3 in the morning. It’s a Darwinian process, and the strong survive. This is fair. The one thing that should be mentioned is that, for the ones that don’t survive, the process includes a long, long night and no sleep. Many of these contestants have never been through this kind of grinder. I don’t excuse anyone from failing on Group Day. They failed, come back next year and try again. I do excuse them for some of the outbursts of frustration. Mary Powers was hammered on the show for her impatience and her diva-like behavior. Mark Labriola and several others forgot their words, and Mark famously begged for another chance. While I don’t excuse them for failing, I do excuse them, in their sleep deprived state, for acting in a less than dignified way. I understand that Idol wants to show the angst; the drama. Group Day is the hardest day of the entire season for sheer, grinding emotional distress. If a few contestants break under the pressure, I forgive them that weak moment and I feel for them. What they do in frustration, in my opinion, should not be held against them. It’s a tough competition, on purpose. It’s never fun to be the one that is weeded out, especially if it’s on 2 hours of sleep.

Ben Honeycutt- OUT; Part of the “Carry On Wayward Son” group. I liked his voice. This group was the one that lost Kat right before the performance, and their dysfunction might have cost him his shot….. Jeff Goldford- IN; he was in the “Wayward Son” group. Smokey voice, not super strong but he was in control of it and he’s memorable….. Janelle Wheeler- IN; and she was very, very impressive. She keeps moving up and up in my estimation. She might not have the best pure voice, but she is an amazing performer in every other way. I’m trying to figure out who she can be compared to. The best comp for the show might be Brooke White, or maybe you can close your eyes and compare her to someone like Lisa Loeb, but it just doesn’t work. Janelle is aCaliforniablonde with obvious dark roots and spectacular legs. When she performs, if you close your eyes, she sounds like someone like Sara McLachlan or Lisa Loeb. It’s disconcerting, or at least it was when I first heard her. She has a hesitation in her phrasing, which can be either warming or irritating, depending on whether you like her or you don’t. The overall effect would be something like watching Rebecca Romaine singing Carole King. It’s just weird. Weird, but also very cool. Her looks are not generically perfect. Her face has character, and she has just the right amount of physical imperfections to make her stand out. That same “Hollywood Look” that made me down on her in her audition might end up being her best friend. She seems to bring out another step forward in every performance, and I am not sure that she isn’t a genuine contender for the final 12 now. I am sold on her as a true musician, and that means that I am going to root for her from now on. If only her voice was stronger….. J. B. Ahfua- IN; Sang with Andrew and Katie, in one of the best groups of the show. His part of the show was short so I dunno, but he reminded me a little bit of Anoop from last year. He’s about 5 feet tall. There was another guy in that group that made it, a big, deeply bass voiced black man. I’ll look for him later.

Audition Round survivors-

Mary Powers- IN. She went from being the rocker chick to being the diva-monster, and any increase in respect that she might get from knowing how to set up a group effort was more than offset by her histrionics and impatience, not to mention that the aforementioned group effort just stunk out loud. Also, not to get side tracked, but what in the hell is going on with her hair? The Bride of Frankenstein thinks she needs a makeover. I have mixed feelings about her, between being a bit higher on her since she is still in, and being down on her because she is becoming a villain. Overall I am a little bit higher on her, I guess, but she is dust once the speed dialers get involved. She would have to be amazing to overcome the negativity. In her defense, she wasn’t doing anything that wasn’t going on all over the room. Idol decided to put her on camera, and she is stuck with it. I am stuck with saying “being” about 100 times in one paragraph and being too lazy to fix it. At least I am not being on camera with my hair looking like it was made out of die-cast plastic….. Thaddeus Johnson- IN, he was the over singing 16 year old with the big voice….. Charity Vance- IN, but I wasn’t all that impressed by her over the top vibrato. I like her, but she’s still a little kid with a little kid voice. I expect a bad ending for her, but I also expect that she will handle it well….. Kimberly Kerbow- OUT; She was the flirty girl who Simon called “trouble”; with the cute as a button tiny little 5 year old tow headed daughter who took 2 takes to tell the world that her Mom is “the next… I mean….. ummmm…. the NEXT… pause, play with her hair….. AMERICAN IDOL!!!!! YEEEAAHHHHH!!!!!! (Lots of jumping up and down and clapping….. then lots of hugs, it was too cute for words). She (Kimberly) has a beautiful voice, but she forgot the words on group performance night, just like her kid did at the auditions. I came away from her failure inHollywoodliking her a lot more than I did after her audition, when she seemed a little bit too full of herself. She didn’t moan and complain when she screwed up and got tossed. She said, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry” when she forgot the words, and she quickly ran back and hugged her group mates that made it to the next round with a big smile, through some honest tears….. Amanda Schectman- OUT; She is the actress who can sing with her mouth closed. She made it through the first round ofHollywoodweek, which is worthy of some respect. I am optimistic about her future, but as an actress; not a singer. She seems like a trouper, even through all of the dramatics. Don’t be shocked if you see her on a sitcom someday….. Carmen Turner- OUT; She was the BFF that made it, while her friend didn’t….. Kimberly Carver- OUT; She has a terrific voice, but was missing on her wardrobe and her stage style. She has some stuff on youtube, so she isn’t giving up. We might see her next year….. Dave Pittman- OUT; He was the kid with Tourette’s Syndrome. He made it to group night, which means that he was able to impress the judges without a pass for his disability. When he was bounced he handed it with class and dignity….. Katylin Epperly- IN….. Keah Johnson- IN….. Christian Spear- IN; she is the girl in remission from Leukemia. She is just 16 years old, and I felt that she should be able to come back when she is older, but what the hell; she is in the final 71, and now that she made it this far she should just go for it. Who would know better than someone with a life threatening disease how short life can be?

I count 11 as out tonight, not counting the little red haired girl. Since they tossed 25, the idea of doing some math didn’t work. I am pretty sure that the little red haired girl didn’t make it, which sucks. I finally got to hear her and she sounded really good, and they tossed her. I am also sad to see Leah, Seth and several others go. It gets much more brutal next week, when we lose a favorite every five minutes.

(sigh……) tonight I feel a little bit like Charlie Brown. I finally got to see my mythical little red haired girl, and she sounded wonderful – but she was gone as quickly as she appeared, and now I’ll never know her name. I don’t suppose she drives a ’56 T-bird…

Added later: I finally uncovered the little red-haired girl’s name. She is Kelsey Madsen, a 19 year old jazz/blues singer from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She is currently a student at Columbia University in Missouri.

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